Saints: 3 veterans who need to show something in Week 1 of preseason
By Darral Nail
Saints Veterans Who to Show Something
3. P.J. Williams
P.J. Williams’ tenure with the Saints dates back to the Keenan Lewis era. However, owing to a set of injuries that effectively claimed his first two NFL seasons, the former FSU Seminole’s proper arrival in the New Orleans secondary actually coincided with that of Marshon Lattimore.
Having spent his first on-field season splitting time at left cornerback, the 2018 season saw the beginning of Williams’ development into a rangy and physical slot defender, though one who could still (at that point) chip in as an outside corner as needed.
Entering his seventh league season, Williams is years removed from his role as a primary coverage defender and now finds himself on the field primarily in sub-packages by way of a position more akin to a deep safety.
While a critic could deduce from Williams’ positional trajectory (from outside corner to slot and now to free safety) that the team is running out of field space on which to stash the 28-year-old defensive back, such a dismissal would require one to ignore the utility that Williams still provides within the Saints’ defensive system.
The question at hand regarding Williams’ place on this Saints team becomes less about whether or not he can still play, and more about the realities of roster construction within today’s NFL.
With the loss of core special teamers such as Justin Hardee and Craig Robertson, coach Sean Payton and company will be scouring the roster for young, dynamic players willing to bet their early careers on their aptitude in the kicking game.
With UDFAs (and fellow safeties) Eric Burrell and Bryce Thompson likely falling into this category, and with each (particularly Thompson) potentially offering an upgrade over the pure coverage abilities of a latter-career Williams, the veteran DB will need to make clear his value proposition on the playing field if he is to hold off one or more of the upstarts.